Monday, November 30, 2020

True Knowledge

From the lowest amoeba to the highest angel, He resides in every soul, and eternally declares, “I am He, I am He”. When we have understood that voice eternally present there, when we have learnt this lesson, the whole universe will have expressed its secret. Nature will have given up her secret to us. Nothing more remains to be known. Thus we find the truth for which all religions search, that all this knowledge of material sciences is but secondary. That is the only true knowledge which makes us one with this Universal God of the Universe. (I, 382)

“We have to realise the Brahma which is housed in our Atma which is unchangeable. There is nothing more to be known. Jeeva, the enjoyer, nature the enjoyed and the propelling force, the God are all facets of Brahma” (Sw. Upa 1-12)

Swamiji has quoted here from Swetaswataropanishad. 

This truth was realised by our great rishis through Dhyana Yoga and thus Dhyana became a complete technology for seeking Truth. This again is a great contribution of India to the world at large. Today all over the world Dhyana and Yoga have been accepted as the most important steps in spiritual evolution.

True knowledge is not easy to realise. The seeker of Truth must, first of all, nurture the qualities of ‘shama and dama’. The process by which mind is kept within not allowing it to wander outside is ‘shama’. ‘Dama’ is withholding the world of senses from entering inside. Next comes ‘tithisksha’, not overreacting to pressures outside. It is a very important mental attuning. Hatred, anger, etc. should be totally eliminated from the mind as also any revengeful reaction.  And that is ‘ahimsa’. Next comes ‘uparati’, not to think of sense objects at all, followed by ‘shraddha’ or faith in God and  in the principles of one’s own religion. Next is ‘samadhana’ keeping the mind in the God through constant attunement. Acute yearning for liberation forms the last step. When all these qualities become integrated in our character true knowledge starts bubbling up from the depths of our being. 

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Goal of Life is Knowledge

The goal of mankind is knowledge. That is the one ideal placed before us by Eastern philosophy. Pleasure is not the goal of man, but knowledge. Pleasure and happiness come to an end. It is a mistake to suppose that pleasure is the goal. The cause of all the miseries we have in the world is that men foolishly think pleasure to be the ideal to strive for. 

After a time man finds that it is not happiness, but knowledge, towards which he is going, and that both pleasure and pain are great teachers, and that he learns as much from evil as from good. As pleasure and pain pass before his soul they have upon it different pictures, and the result of these combined impressions is what is called man’s “character”. If you take the character of any man, it really is but the aggregate of tendencies, the sum total of the bent of his mind; you will find that misery and happiness are equal factors in the formation of that character. 

Good and evil have an equal share in moulding character, and in some instances misery is a greater teacher than happiness. In studying the great characters the world has produced, I dare say, in the vast majority of cases, it would be found that it was misery that taught more than happiness, it was poverty that taught more than wealth, it was blows that brought out their inner fire more than praise. (I, 27)

Swamiji points out here that very often it is grief which comes to us as a real Guru. For example, after his father’s death he had to undergo so many difficulties which finally transformed the Jnani in him into a Bhakta. He could then identify himself with the sorrows of the world and start thinking about ways and means to eradicate them. His personal grief proved to be the first step in transforming him into a universal being. These experiences lie behind his bold statements that more than praises it is the beatings that helped him to manifest the strength within. 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Realisation of Brahman is the ultimate Goal

Well, the truth is this. The knowledge of Brahman is the ultimate goal — the highest destiny of man. But man cannot remain absorbed in Brahman all the time. When he comes out of it, he must have something to engage himself. At that time he should do such work as will contribute to the real well-being of people. 

Therefore do I urge you in the service of Jivas in a spirit of oneness. But, my son, such are the intricacies of work, that even great saints are caught in them and become attached. Therefore work has to be done without any desire for results. This is the teaching of the Gita. But know that in the knowledge of Brahman there is no touch of any relation to work. Good works, at the most, purify the mind. Therefore has the commentator Shankara so sharply criticised the doctrine of the combination of Jnana and Karma. Some attain to the knowledge of Brahman by the means of unselfish work. This is also a means, but the end is the realisation of Brahman. Know this thoroughly that the goal of the path of discrimination and of all other modes of practice is the realisation of Brahman.

Disciple: Now, sir, please tell me about the utility of Raja-Yoga and Bhakti-Yoga.

Swamiji: Striving in these paths also some attain to the realisation of Brahman. The path of Bhakti or devotion of God is a slow process, but is easy of practice. In the path of Yoga there are many obstacles; perhaps the mind runs after psychic powers and thus draws you away from attaining your real nature. 

Only the path of Jnana is of quick fruition and the rationale of all other creeds; hence it is equally esteemed in all countries and all ages. But even in the path of discrimination there is the chance of the mind getting stuck in the interminable net of vain argumentation. Therefore along with it, meditation should be practised. By means of discrimination and meditation, the goal or Brahman has to be reached. One is sure to reach the goal by practising in this way. This, in my opinion, is the easy path ensuring quick success.   (VII, 197- 198)  

Friday, November 27, 2020

Advaita must become Practical

But one defect which lay in the Advaita was its being worked out so long on the spiritual plane only, and nowhere else; now the time has come when you have to make it practical. It shall no more be a Rahasya, a secret, it shall no more live with monks in caves and forests, and in the Himalayas; it must come down to the daily, everyday life of the people; it shall be worked out in the palace of the king, in the cave of the recluse; it shall be worked out in the cottage of the poor, by the beggar in the street, everywhere; anywhere it can be worked out. Therefore do not fear whether you are a woman or a Shudra, for this religion is so great, says Lord Krishna, that even a little of it brings a great amount of good. (III, 427)

Therefore, children of the Aryans, do not sit idle; awake, arise, and stop not till the goal is reached. The time has come when this Advaita is to be worked out practically. Let us bring it down from heaven unto the earth; this is the present dispensation. Ay, the voices of our forefathers of old are telling us to bring it down from heaven to the earth. Let your teachings permeate the world, till they have entered into every pore of society, till they have become the common property of everybody, till they have become part and parcel of our lives, till they have entered into our veins and tingle with every drop of blood there. (III, 427 - 428)

Thursday, November 26, 2020

What is the Gain? - Strength

            What is the gain? It is strength. Take off that veil of hypnotism which you have cast upon the world, send not out thoughts and words of weakness unto humanity. Know that all sins and all evils can be summed up in that one word, weakness. It is weakness that is the motive power in all evil doing; it is weakness that is the source of all selfishness; it is weakness that makes men injure others; it is weakness that makes them manifest what they are not in reality. Let them all know what they are; let them repeat day and night what they are. Soham. Let them suck it in with their mothers’ milk, this idea of strength — I am He, I am He. This is to be heard first —  etc. And then let them think of it, and out of that thought, out of that heart will proceed works such as the world has never seen.(III, 425-26) 

            Swamiji was very vehement in impressing upon the youth the great strength - giving ideal of vedanta like ‘Tattwamasi’ and secret of the sacred word Om. The infinite Brahman is a magazine of power and strength and we can draw as much as we want from It. This is the secret of true Self confidence. The secret of Advaita is; believe in yourselves first and then believe in anything else. If you want to be intellectual, work it out on the intellectual plane, and intellectual giants you shall be. And if you want to attain freedom, work it out on the spiritual plane, and free you shall be.......

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Infinite in the Finite

As such, it follows that every soul is infinite. From the lowest worm that crawls under our feet to the noblest and greatest saints, all have this infinite power, infinite purity, and infinite everything. Only the difference is in the degree of manifestation. 

The worm is only manifesting just a little bit of that energy, you have manifested more, another god-man has manifested still more: that is all the difference. But that infinite power is there all the same. Says Patanjali:  — "Like the peasant irrigating his field." 

Through a little corner of his field he brings water from a reservoir somewhere, and perhaps he has got a little lock that prevents the water from rushing into his field. When he wants water, he has simply to open the lock, and in rushes the water of its own power. 

The power has not to be added, it is already there in the reservoir. So every one of us, every being, has as his own background such a reservoir of strength, infinite power, infinite purity, infinite bliss, and existence infinite — only these locks, these bodies, are hindering us from expressing what we really are to the fullest.( 407-408)

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Universal Truth

There are truths that are true only in a certain line, in a certain direction, under certain circumstances, and for certain times — those that are founded on the institutions of the times. There are other truths which are based on the nature of man himself, and which must endure so long as man himself endures. These are the truths that alone can be universal, and in spite of all the changes that have come to India, as to our social surroundings, our methods of dress, our manner of eating, our modes of worship — these universal truths of the Shrutis, the marvellous Vedantic ideas, stand out in their own sublimity, immovable, unvanquishable, deathless, and immortal. Yet the germs of all the ideas that were developed in the Upanishads had been taught already in the Karma Kanda. The idea of the cosmos which all sects of Vedantists had to take for granted, the psychology which has formed the common basis of all the Indian schools of thought, had there been worked out already and presented before the world.(III, 395)

This is the part of the lecture that Swamiji delivered at Lahore on 12th November  1897. We find here an exhaustive description of the two worlds, external and internal, which were analysed by man eager to get answers for all the deep problems that confronted him. Swamiji goes on to describe how the analysis of the internal world was taken up by the Indian mind which finally led to the discovery of the ultimate undivided One Truth.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Perfection is already in Man

In this universe where nothing is lost, where we live in the midst of death in life, every thought that is thought, in public or in private, in crowded thoroughfares or in the deep recesses of primeval forests, lives. They are continuously trying to become self-embodied, and until they have embodied themselves, they will struggle for expression, and any amount of repression cannot kill them. Nothing can be destroyed — those thoughts that caused evil in the past are also seeking embodiment, to be filtered through repeated expression and, at last, transfigured into perfect good.

As such, there is a mass of thought which is at the present time struggling to get expression. This new thought is telling us to give up our dreams of dualism, of good and evil in essence, and the still wilder dream of suppression. It teaches us that higher direction and not destruction is the law. It teaches us that it is not a world of bad and good, but good and better — and still better. It stops short of nothing but acceptance. It teaches that no situation is hopeless, and as such accepts every form of mental, moral, or spiritual thought where it already stands, and without a word of condemnation tells it that so far it has done good, now is the time to do better. What in old times was thought of as the elimination of bad, it teaches as the transfiguration of evil and the doing of better. It, above all, teaches that the kingdom of heaven is already in existence if we will have it, that perfection is already in man if he will see it.(VI,   354-55)

The Greenacre meetings last summer were so wonderful, simply because you opened yourself fully to that thought which has found in you so competent a medium of expression, and because you took your stand on the highest teaching of this thought that the kingdom of heaven already exists.

You have been consecrated and chosen by the Lord as a channel for converting this thought into life, and every one that helps you in this wonderful work is serving the Lord.

Our scripture teaches that he who serves the servants of the Lord is His highest worshipper. You are a servant of the Lord, and as a disciple of Krishna I will always consider it a privilege and worship to render you any service in the carrying out of your inspired mission wherever I be.  (VI, 354- 355) 

The above letter was written by Swamiji to Miss S. Farmer on 29th December 1895 from New York recalling the wonderful times he had with his disciple at Greenacre during summer. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020


All the power of knowledge and wealth once made has passed away — all the sciences of the ancients, lost, lost forever. Nobody knows how. That teaches us a grand lesson. Vanity of vanities; all is vanity and vexation of the spirit. If we have seen all this, then we become disgusted with this world and all it offers us. This is called Vairâgya, non-attachment, and is the first step towards knowledge.

The natural desire of man is to go towards the senses. Turning away from the senses takes him back to God. So the first lesson we have to learn is to turn away from the vanities of the world. (IX, 219)

The Four Disciplines

When have you reached knowledge? When you are equipped with those four disciplines [i.e. the four qualifications for attainment discussed in Vedantic literature: discrimination between the real and the unreal, renunciation, the six treasures of virtue beginning with tranquility, and longing for liberation]. You must give up all desire of enjoyment, either in this life or the next. All enjoyments of this life are vain. Let them come and go as they will.

What you have earned by your past actions none can take away from you. If you have deserved wealth, you can bury yourself in the forest and it will come to you. If you have deserved good food and clothing, you may go to the north pole and they will be brought to you. The polar bear will bring them. If you have not deserved them, you may conquer the world and will die of starvation. So, why do you bother about these things? And, after all, what is the use of them? (IX, 218) 

Friday, November 20, 2020

Ignorance - The Cause of all Bondages

The main cause of all bondage is ignorance. Man is not wicked by his own nature — not at all. His nature is pure, perfectly holy. Each man is divine. Each man that you see is a God by his very nature. This nature is covered by ignorance, and it is ignorance that binds us down. Ignorance is the cause of all misery. 

Ignorance is the cause of all wickedness; and knowledge will make the world good. Knowledge will remove all misery. Knowledge will make us free. This is the idea of Jnana-Yoga: knowledge will make us free! What knowledge? Chemistry? Physics? Astronomy? Geology? They help us a little, just a little. But the chief knowledge is that of your own nature. "Know thyself." You must know what you are, what your real nature is. You must become conscious of that infinite nature within. Then your bondages will burst. (IX, 214)

Thursday, November 19, 2020


The word Jnâna means knowledge. It is derived from the root Jnâ — to know — the same word from which your English word to know is derived. Jnana-Yoga is Yoga by means of knowledge. What is the object of the Jnana-Yoga? Freedom. Freedom from what? Freedom from our imperfections, freedom from the misery of life. Why are we miserable? We are miserable because we are bound. What is the bondage? The bondage is of nature. Who is it that binds us? We, ourselves.(IX, 208)

Knowledge - True Nature of the Human Soul

Vedantic and other philosophers of the Indian schools hold that knowledge is not to be acquired from without. It is the innate nature of the human soul and the essential birthright of every man. The human soul is the repository of infinite wisdom; what external agency can illuminate it? According to some schools, this infinite wisdom remains always the same and is never lost; and man is not ordinarily; conscious of this, because a veil, so to speak, has fallen over it on account of his evil deeds, but as soon as the veil is removed it reveals itself. Others say that this infinite wisdom, though potentially present in a human soul, has become contracted through evil deeds and it becomes expanded again by the mercy of God gained by good deeds. We also read in our scriptures various other methods of unfolding this inborn infinite power and knowledge, such as devotion to God, performance of work without attachment, practicing the eightfold accessories of the Yoga system, or constant dwelling on this knowledge, and so on. The final conclusion, however, is this, that through the practice of one or more or all of these methods together man gradually becomes conscious of his inborn real nature, and the infinite power and wisdom within, latent or veiled, becomes at last fully manifest. (IV – 430-32)

Swamiji wrote an article on ‘Knowledge: Its Source and Acquirement’ for the Bengali Udbodhana on 12th February 1899. The above words are quoted from that article. 
If our mind is a treasure house of knowledge why that knowledge cannot be made to manifest? This question needs to be answered. In the above we can find the answer. Our own misdeeds originating from our ignorance have created a lot of bad samskaras in our mind. Just as a smoke coated chimney cannot bring out the light within, so also when the human mind is tarnished with evil samskaras, this infinite knowledge remains covered. Through good deeds when good thoughts are awakened and through the mercy of God this knowledge expands and starts manifesting itself. One who practises karma, bhakti, jnana, yoga slowly turns into a jnani.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Purusha - the Magic Lantern

The mind and body are like two layers in the same substance, moving at different rates of speed. Relatively, one being slower and the other quicker, we can distinguish between the two motions. For instance, a train is in motion, and a carriage is moving alongside it. It is possible to find the motion of both these to a certain extent. But still something else is necessary. Motion can only be perceived when there is something else which is not moving. But when two or three things are relatively moving, we first perceive the motion of the faster one, and then that of the slower ones.

How is the mind to perceive? It is also in a flux. Therefore another thing is necessary which moves more slowly, then you must get to something in which the motion is still slower, and so on, and you will find no end. Therefore logic compels you to stop somewhere. You must complete the series by knowing something which never changes. Behind this never-ending chain of motion is the Purusha, the changeless, the colourless, the pure. All these impressions are merely reflected upon it, as a magic lantern throws images upon a screen, without in any way tarnishing it. (I, 299)

Monday, November 16, 2020

Ignorance as the Cause of Misery

The misery that we suffer comes from ignorance, from non-discrimination between the real and the unreal. We all take the bad for the good, the dream for the reality. Soul is the only reality, and we have forgotten it. Body is an unreal dream, and we think we are all bodies. This non-discrimination is the cause of misery. 

It is caused by ignorance. When discrimination comes, it brings strength, and then alone can we avoid all these various ideas of body, heavens, and gods. This ignorance arises through differentiating by species, sign, and place...........The highest philosophy of the Yogi is based upon this fact, that the Purusha is pure and perfect, and is the only "simple" that exists in this universe.

The body and mind are compounds, and yet we are ever identifying ourselves with them This is the great mistake that the distinction has been lost. When this power of discrimination has been attained, man sees that everything in this world, mental and physical, is a compound, and, as such, cannot be the Purusha. (I, 287)

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Concentration helps to attain Subconsciousness

The only way of attaining to that super consciousness is by concentration, and we have also seen that what hinder the mind from concentration are the past Samskaras, impressions. All of you have observed that, when you are trying to concentrate your mind, your thoughts wander. When you are trying to think of God, that is the very time these Samskaras appear. At other times they are not so active; but when you want them not, they are sure to be there, trying their best to crowd in your mind. Why should that be so? Why should they be much more potent at the time of concentration? 

It is because you are repressing them, and they react with all their force. At other times they do not react. How countless these old past impressions must be, all lodged somewhere in the Chitta, ready, waiting like tigers, to jump up! These have to be suppressed that the one idea which we want may arise, to the exclusion of the others. Instead they are all struggling to come up at the same time. These are the various powers of the Samskaras in hindering concentration of the mind. So this Samadhi which has just been given is the best to be practised, on account of its power of suppressing the Samskaras. The Samskara which will be raised by this sort of concentration will be so powerful that it will hinder the action of the others, and hold them in check. (I, 233)

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Realisation is Real Religion


Realisation is real religion, all the rest is only preparation — hearing lectures, or reading books, or reasoning is merely preparing the ground; it is not religion. Intellectual assent and intellectual dissent are not religion. The central idea of the Yogis is that just as we come in direct contact with objects of the senses, so religion even can be directly perceived in a far more intense sense. The truths of religion, as God and Soul, cannot be perceived by the external senses. I cannot see God with my eyes, nor can I touch Him with my hands, and we also know that neither can we reason beyond the senses. 

        Reason leaves us at a point quite indecisive; we may reason all our lives, as the world has been doing for thousands of years, and the result is that we find we are incompetent to prove or disprove the facts of religion. What we perceive directly we take as the basis, and upon that basis we reason. So it is obvious that reasoning has to run within these bounds of perception. 

        It can never go beyond. The whole scope of realisation, therefore, is beyond sense-perception. The Yogis say that man can go beyond his direct sense-perception, and beyond his reason also. Man has in him the faculty, the power, of transcending his intellect even, a power which is in every being, every creature. By the practice of Yoga that power is aroused, and then man transcends the ordinary limits of reason, and directly perceives things which are beyond all reason. (I, 232-33)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Is there really a “spiritual seeker”?

The other day we were reading asthavkra gita, yoga vasistha. the one answer that came to our minds was ignorance alone was the reason. How to understand this ignorance. It needs an objective observation or in other words. Sakshibhava. If only we can start looking at everything with that awareness to some extent we were able to see the ground reality. We need to identify first, where do we blunder, where do we misunderstand, where do we miss path.

#Rameshbalsekhar in his book puts in simple words. May be these words could throw some light on this Deepavali day so that our search for truth is on the right path.

Wishing you all a Very Happy Diwali

with prayers

Is there really a “spiritual seeker”?

What does a spiritual seeker seek? Enlightenment? What does he expect “enlightenment” to do for him for the rest of his life that he didn’t have before? If he gives some thought to this very basic question, he will come to the conclusion that what he expects
ultimately is harmony in his relationship with the “other” and peace with himself.

And what does the ordinary human being want most in life - one who is reasonably comfortable in life and not below the poverty line?

A little thought will bring one to the conclusion that what every human being ultimately wants is also a harmonious relationship with the other and peace with himself.

A spiritual seeker usually has no clear idea of what he is seeking. He may term it as self-realization or enlightenment. What he really has in mind is an experience of ecstasy, something on the lines of a photograph he might have seen of the sage Ramakrishna or a Sufi saint in ecstasy.

He does not realize that any experience is essentially temporary, time-bound – a few minutes or a few hours – and is not what the sage has really got out of his enlightenment. What the sage really has is a deep, ultimate understanding – with or without an experience.

What the understanding has brought him is a deep sense of peace within himself and a sense of harmony with the other, whether the other is a close relative or a total stranger. This is not a temporary experience but a lasting one, the very basis of his daily living.

It is very necessary for the spiritual to understand this fact clearly in order to avoid deep frustration after years of spiritual seeking. 

by Sri Ramesh Balsekar


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Constant Meditation - its Results

What results from this constant meditation? ..............The result of these meditations is that we can meditate as easily on the fine as on the gross objects. Here the Yogi sees the three things, the receiver, the received, and the receiving instrument, corresponding to the Soul, external objects, and the mind. 

There are three objects of meditation given us. First, the gross things, as bodies, or material objects; second, fine things, as the mind, the Chitta; and third, the Purusha qualified, not the Purusha itself, but the Egoism. By practice, the Yogi gets established in all these meditations. 

Whenever he meditates he can keep out all other thoughts; he becomes identified with that on which he meditates. When he meditates, he is like a piece of crystal. Before flowers the crystal becomes almost identified with the flowers. If the flower is red, the crystal looks red, or if the flower is blue, the crystal looks blue. (I, 228-29)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Thoughts that Pacify Chitta

We must have these four sorts of ideas. We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful towards those that are in misery; when people are happy, we ought to be happy; and to the wicked we must be indifferent. So with all subjects that come before us. If the subject is a good one, we shall feel friendly towards it; if the subject of thought is one that is miserable, we must be merciful towards it. 

If it is good, we must be glad; if it is evil, we must be indifferent. These attitudes of the mind towards the different subjects that come before it will make the mind peaceful. Most of our difficulties in our daily lives come from being unable to hold our minds in this way. 

For instance, if a man does evil to us, instantly we want to react evil, and every reaction of evil shows that we are not able to hold the Chitta down; it comes out in waves towards the object, and we lose our power. Every reaction in the form of hatred or evil is so much loss to the mind; and every evil thought or deed of hatred, or any thought of reaction, if it is controlled, will be laid in our favour. 

It is not that we lose by thus restraining ourselves; we are gaining infinitely more than we suspect. Each time we suppress hatred, or a feeling of anger, it is so much good energy stored up in our favour; that piece of energy will be converted into the higher powers. (I, 222-223)

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

To be a Master of Nature - Internal and External

According to the Raja-Yogi, the external world is but the gross form of the internal, or subtle. The finer is always the cause, the grosser the effect. So the external world is the effect, the internal the cause. In the same way external forces are simply the grosser parts, of which the internal forces are the finer. The man who has discovered and learned how to manipulate the internal forces will get the whole of nature under his control. 

The Yogi proposes to himself no less a task than to master the whole universe, to control the whole of nature. He wants to arrive at the point where what we call "nature's laws" will have no influence over him, where he will be able to get beyond them all. He will be master of the whole of nature, internal and external. 

The progress and civilisation of the human race simply mean controlling this nature........The end and aim of all science is to find the unity, the One out of which the manifold is being manufactured, that One existing as many.

Raja-Yoga proposes to start from the internal world, to study internal nature, and through that, control the whole — both internal and external. It is a very old attempt. India has been its special stronghold, but it was also attempted by other nations.(I, 132-33)

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Instruments for acquiring Knowledge

Each one of them tells you to cling to your reason to hold fast to it. We find in all beings three sorts of instruments of knowledge. The first is instinct, which you find most highly developed in animals; this is the lowest instrument of knowledge. What is the second instrument of knowledge? Reasoning.

You find that most highly developed in man. Now in the first place, instinct is an inadequate instrument; to animals, the sphere of action is very limited, and within that limit instinct acts. When you come to man, you see it is largely developed into reason. The sphere of action also has here become enlarged. Yet even reason is still very insufficient. 

Reason can go only a little way and then it stops, it cannot go any further; This world, this universe which our senses feel, or our mind thinks, is but one atom, so to say, of the Infinite, projected on to the plane of consciousness; and within that narrow limit, defined by the network of consciousness, works our reason, and not beyond. Therefore, there must be some other instrument to take us beyond, and that instrument is called inspiration. 

So instinct, reason, and inspiration are the three instruments of knowledge. Instinct belongs to animals, reason to man, and inspiration to God-men. But in all human beings are to be found, in a more or less developed condition, the germs of all these three instruments of knowledge. 

To have these mental instruments evolved, the germs must be there. And this must also be remembered that one instrument is a development of the other, and therefore does not contradict it. It is reason that develops into inspiration, and therefore inspiration does not contradict reason, but fulfils it. 

Things which reason cannot get at are brought to light by inspiration; and they do not contradict reason. The old man does not contradict the child, but fulfils the child. (II -389-90)

Instinct, reasoning and inspiration are the three modes of acquiring knowledge.

Each one fulfills the other. Blessed indeed is he, who can effortlessly bring out the faculty of inspiration. It depends on the purity of the mind and the fine tuning of the faculties within. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Concentration - the key to open the Treasure Chest of Knowledge

We have but one method of acquiring knowledge. From the lowest man to the highest Yogi, all have to use the same method; and that method is what is called concentration. The chemist who works in his laboratory concentrates all the powers of his mind, brings them into one focus, and throws them on the elements; and the elements stand analysed, and thus his knowledge comes. 

The astronomer has also concentrated the powers of his mind and brought them into one focus; and he throws them on to objects through his telescope; and stars and systems roll forward and give up their secrets to him. So it is in every case — with the professor in his chair, the student with his book — with every man who is working to know. 

You are hearing me, and if my words interest you, your mind will become concentrated on them; and then suppose a clock strikes, you will not hear it, on account of this concentration; and the more you are able to concentrate your mind, the better you will understand me; and the more I concentrate my love and powers, the better I shall be able to give expression to what I want to convey to you.

The more this power of concentration, the more knowledge is acquired, because this is the one and only method of acquiring knowledge. Even the lowest shoeblack, if he gives more concentration, will black shoes better; the cook with concentration will cook a meal all the better. 

In making money, or in worshipping God, or in doing anything, the stronger the power of concentration, the better will that thing be done. This is the one call, the one knock, which opens the gates of nature, and lets out floods of light. This, the power of concentration, is the only key to the treasure-house of knowledge. The system of Raja-Yoga deals almost exclusively with this. In the present state of our body we are so much distracted, and the mind is frittering away its energies upon a hundred sorts of things. As soon as I try to calm my thoughts and concentrate my mind upon any one object of knowledge, thousands of undesired impulses rush into the brain, thousands of thoughts rush into the mind and disturb it. How to check it and bring the mind under control is the whole subject of study in Raja-Yoga.

Each one of us is engaged in some work, but the majority of us fritter away the greater portion of our energies, because we do not know the secret of work. Karma-Yoga explains this secret and teaches where and how to work, how to employ to the greatest advantage the largest part of our energies in the work that is before us. (II, 390 – 393)

Swamiji was gifted with the power of perfect concentration which used to astound people around. He had only to take up a book and scan the pages to get all the knowledge that was printed thereon, in which page, in what words and so on. This extraordinary ability of Swamiji surprised many a librarian in India and outside, whenever he used to take big volumes and return then in very short time.     

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Trans-sensual Knowledge

There is knowledge beyond the senses, and whenever it does not contradict reason and past human experience, that knowledge is proof. Any madman may come into this room and say he sees angels around him; that would not be proof. In the first place, it must be true knowledge, and secondly, it must not contradict past knowledge, and thirdly, it must depend upon the character of the man who gives it out. I hear it said that the character of the man is not of so much importance as what he may say; we must first hear what he says. This may be true in other things. 

        A man may be wicked, and yet make an astronomical discovery, but in religion it is different, because no impure man will ever have the power to reach the truths of religion. Therefore we have first of all to see that the man who declares himself to be an Âpta is a perfectly unselfish and holy person; secondly, that he has reached beyond the senses; and thirdly, that what he says does not contradict the past knowledge of humanity. Any new discovery of truth does not contradict the past truth, but fits into it. And fourthly, that truth must have a possibility of verification...... 

        Everyone must have the power to see it for himself. No one who sells his knowledge is an Apta. All these conditions must be fulfilled; you must first see that the man is pure, and that he has no selfish motive; that he has no thirst for gain or fame. Secondly, he must show that he is super-conscious. He must give us something that we cannot get from our senses, and which is for the benefit of the world. Thirdly, we must see that it does not contradict other truths; if it contradicts other scientific truths reject it at once. Fourthly, the man should never be singular; he should only represent what all men can attain. The three sorts of proof are, then, direct sense-perception, inference, and the words of an Apta......  this knowledge comes from the man himself. The literal meaning is "attained” .(I, 205-206)

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Sense Control through non-attachment.

The mind, to have non-attachment, must be clear, good, and rational. Why should we practice? Because each action is like the pulsations quivering over the surface of the lake. The vibration dies out, and what is left? The Samskâras, the impressions. When a large number of these impressions are left on the mind, they coalesce and become a habit. It is said, “Habit is second nature”, it is first nature also, and the whole nature of man; everything that we are is the result of habit. That gives us consolation, because, if it is only habit, we can make and unmake it at any time. 

        The Samskaras are left by these vibrations passing out of our mind, each one of them leaving its result. Our character is the sum-total of these marks, and according as some particular wave prevails one takes that tone. If good prevails, one becomes good; if wickedness, one becomes wicked; if joyfulness, one becomes happy. The only remedy for bad habits is counter habits; all the bad habits that have left their impressions are to be controlled by good habits. Go on doing good, thinking holy thoughts continuously; that is the only way to suppress base impressions. Never say any man is hopeless, because he only represents a character, a bundle of habits, which can be checked by new and better ones. Character is repeated habits, and repeated habits alone can reform character. (I, 207-08)

True to the Indian tradition Swamiji always insisted that character building should form a very important part of true education. This is the only way by which the lotus of knowledge in the human mind can be brought to blossom.  

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Self - control through Constant Practice

        It is very difficult, but we can overcome the difficulty by constant practice. We must learn that nothing can happen to us, unless we make ourselves susceptible to it. I have just said, no disease can come to me until the body is ready; it does not depend alone on the germs, but upon a certain predisposition which is already in the body. We get only that for which we are fitted. Let us give up our pride and understand this, that never is misery undeserved. There never has been a blow undeserved: there never has been an evil for which I did not pave the way with my own hands. 

        We ought to know that. Analyse yourselves and you will find that every blow you have received, came to you because you prepared yourselves for it. You did half, and the external world did the other half: that is how the blow came. That will sober us down. At the same time, from this very analysis will come a note of hope, and the note of hope is: “I have no control of the external world, but that which is in me and nearer unto me, my own world, is in my control. If the two together are required to make a failure, if the two together are necessary to give me a blow, I will not contribute the one which is in my keeping; and how then can the blow come? If I get real control of myself, the blow will never come.” (II, 7 -8)

        Swamiji gives the advice as to how to overcome the obstacles that appear on our way as we practise detachment. It is only through constant practice that one can accumulate spiritual power. Such a power is necessary to face the beatings that nature inflicts on us. Vedanta puts before us the example of the tortoise (withdrawing its limbs inside) and of a steady flame of a lamp in a windless atmosphere.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Pranayama or Control of Breath

There was once a minister to a great king. He fell into disgrace. The king, as a punishment, ordered him to be shut up in the top of a very high tower. This was done, and the minister was left there to perish. He had a faithful wife, however, who came to the tower at night and called to her husband at the top to know what she could do to help him. He told her to return to the tower the following night and bring with her a long rope, some stout twine, pack thread, silken thread, a beetle, and a little honey. Wondering much, the good wife obeyed her husband, and brought him the desired articles.

The husband directed her to attach the silken thread firmly to the beetle, then to smear its horns with a drop of honey, and to set it free on the wall of the tower, with its head pointing upwards. She obeyed all these instructions, and the beetle started on its long journey. Smelling the honey ahead it slowly crept on wards, in the hope of reaching the honey, until at last it reached the top of the tower, when the minister grasped the beetle, and got possession of the silken thread.

He told his wife to tie the other end to the pack thread, and after he had drawn up the pack thread, he repeated the process with the stout twine, and lastly with the rope. Then the rest was easy. The minister descended from the tower by means of the rope, and made his escape. In this body of ours the breath motion is the “silken thread”; by laying hold of and learning to control it we grasp the pack thread of the nerve currents, and from these the stout twine of our thoughts, and lastly the rope of Prana, controlling which we reach freedom. (I – 143)

We cannot find a better example which illustrates so beautifully the power of pranayama. Breathing is like the outer wheel of the huge body machine. The outer wheel moves first and transfers the movement to smaller and smaller wheels. At last the subtlest part of the machine also starts responding. Breathing is that outer wheel. It  energises all the limbs of the body, coarse and subtle.  must have been an eye opener for his western audience.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

The Singular Power of Prana

Today we find wonderful discoveries of modern science coming upon us like bolts from the blue, opening our eyes to marvels we never dreamt of. But many of these are only re-discoveries of what had been found ages ago. It was only the other day that modern science found that even in the midst of the variety of forces there is unity. It has just discovered that what it calls heat, magnetism, electricity, and so forth, are all convertible into one unit force, and as such, it expresses all these by one name, whatever you may choose to call it. But this has been done even in the Samhita; old and ancient as it is, in it we meet with this very idea of force I was referring to. All the forces, whether you call them gravitation, or attraction, or repulsion, whether expressing themselves as heat, or electricity, or magnetism, are nothing but the variations of that unit energy. Whether they express themselves as thought, reflected from Antahkarana, the inner organs of man, or as action from an external organ, the unit from which they spring is what is called Prâna. (III, 398 – 399)

The above lines have been taken from Swamiji’s famous lecture on Vedanta delivered on 12th November 1897 at Lahore College. Swamiji spoke on the progress made by science dealing with the internal and external ‘nature’. In this particular talk he cleared the thoughts on the origin of the various forces in the universe and the unity that exists amidst them. Modern Science has started   thinking about the possibility of unification of forces only recently. But Indian Rishis (Scientists) have made such discoveries much much earlier. This unification has finally taken them to what is called prana.  

Man - making Education

You cannot make a plant grow in soil unsuited to it. A child teaches itself. But you can help it to go forward in its own way. What you ca...